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Review: Ewelands House, Sleights, Near Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK

I’ve often mentioned on A Luxury Travel Blog about how the luxury end of the self-catering industry continues to reach new heights in terms of standards of excellence. Our latest stay – at Ewelands House in the North Yorkshire Moors village of Sleights – is no exception. This gorgeous three-bedroomed cottage from Unique Retreats sleeps up to 6 people but can be combined with a property below (Ewelands Retreat) to sleep 8. It is also dog friendly and available through Premier Cottages, a collection of small, jointly-marketed holiday rental businesses that are passionate about providing excellence. Read on to learn more about our stay at this beautiful bolthole just a few miles from the coastal haven of Whitby.

The welcome

Prior to our arrival, we were sent the code to a key safe box, granting us access to the property from 4pm onwards, at our convenience. However Lewis and Molly kindly reached out to us ahead of our stay to check on our arrival time so that they could welcome us personally. Since we were unsure of our exact arrival time, we said we were more than happy for them not to wait for us and that we could see ourselves in, which was all fine, but it was a lovely gesture nonetheless. We were still welcomed by the lovely aroma of freshly-baked bread the moment we stepped inside!

The property

On stepping through the door at Ewelands House, we were greeted by a cloakroom adorned with coat hooks and a shoe rack – a perfect place to slip off boots and coat after a day of walking, and embrace the cosiness of the property that soon unfolds.

The heart of the house follows – an open-plan kitchen, dining area and lounge, where neutral, muted tones create a soothing ambiance in which you can relax and truly feel at home.

The kitchen is equipped with all the applicances you need, and more – an oven, hob, microwave, fridge, freezer, kettle, toaster and breadmaker, and even an integrated dishwasher and washing machine. No details have been overlooked, with every kitchen item imaginable at your fingertips, from egg cups to a Champagne bucket and much more besides.

Taking centre stage is the oak dining table and alongside it, something I have never seen in a self-catering property before, an honesty bar, with an enticing selection of wines and spirits.

In the lounge, plush sofas littlered with cushions and beautiful soft furnishings are arranged close to a wood burning stove complete with supply of logs, Samsung TV and DVD player, creating the perfect setting for a cosy night in. There’s even a record playerand small vinyl record selection.

There are regular, tasteful reminders that you are in Ewelands House – a ‘Ewe are my sunshine’ wall hanger, arty sheep images adorning the walls and sheep-themed decorations and cushions.

And step outside onto the elevated decking and you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking view across the sheep pastures that make up the Esk Valley.

As you ascend to the upper floors, the luxury continues with a lovely king-size bedroom complete with dressing table, full-length mirror, fitted wardrobes and TV.

A twin-bedded room next door offers flexibility with zip-link beds, while the family bathroom has a rainfall shower and complimentary Elemis toiletries.

But the pièce de résistance awaits on the top floor, where the master bedroom beckons with a free-standing bath towards the foot of the bed.

From here you have the clearest view of Whitby Abbey on the horizon to the right and the room has its own en suite, again with complimentary Elemis toiletries.

As mentioned earlier, for larger groups, Ewelands House can be linked with the Ewelands Retreat property below, accommodating up to eight guests for the ultimate countryside getaway.

The location

Sleights enjoys a picturesque North Yorkshire Moors setting amongst rolling hills and lush greenery, but it’s more famous neighbour is the captivating coastal town of Whitby which is just 4 miles away or 10 minutes by car. Famed for its dramatic clifftop abbey, Whitby has a rich maritime history, not least because it was from here that famed explorer Captain James Cook learnt his trade. His inaugural 1768 expedition aboard the HMS Endeavour – a replica of which can be seen in the harbour – explored the then largely uncharted Pacific region, leading to the mapping of New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia, and ultimately laying the groundwork for British colonisation in the region.

We enjoyed exploring the area in our own way – running The Cinder Track parkrun (which our eldest son actually won, narrowly missing out on the course record by just 18 seconds!), climbing the famous 199 steps to the abbey – both of which felt like we had earned our fish and chips at the famed Magpie Café – mooching around the town’s shops, and taking leisurely walks on Sandsend beach.

Of course, the town also has a notable literary connection since it served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, and Whitby Goth Weekend attracts enthusiasts from around the world to celebrate its dark and mysterious allure.

Other nice touches

At Ewelands House, the owners have gone above and beyond to ensure guests feel valued. From the thoughtful provision of wellies and umbrellas at the entrance, and even a shoe horn for effortlessly getting footwear on, every detail has seemingly been thought of. The aforementioned aroma of freshly-baked bread greets new arrivals whilst milk in the fridge and a hamper brimming with delights, including a bottle of wine and a variety of local treats, sets the tone for a luxurious stay.

Even furry friends are catered for with a basket of doggy delights (gravy bones, toy and a dog walk guide), plus shampoo and a towel for post-adventure pampering.

There are board games, dominoes, books and DVDs to entertain, and scented reed diffusers infuse the air. And even an iPad Mini for guest use with Unique Retreats’ Touch Stay app pre-installed.

The cost

A week’s stay out of season starts from £1,100 whilst a week in peak season is £2,300.
Short breaks of just two nights range from £800 to £1,100, depending on the time of year.

The best bit

There’s much to commend Ewelands House – the facilities, the quality of the décor, the view and so on… if I was to pick one thing, though, it would be the consistent attention to detail across all aspects of the property. It feels that no stone has been left unturned and that the owners have thought of everything possible to ensure that guests have a truly luxurious stay.

The final verdict

Ewelands House is a sanctuary where guests can immerse themselves in comfort and relaxation, surrounded by breathtaking views of the North Yorkshire Moors and just a stone’s throw from the historical town of Whitby. It is more than just a place to stay – it’s a retreat that’s abundant in thoughtful amenities and that epitomises the pinnacle of a luxury self-catering experience.

Dislcosure: Our stay was courtesy of Unique Retreats and sponsored by Premier Cottages. Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four- and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. It may sound bizarre but a proper porch is one of the things that we really appreciate on a self-catering holiday.

    As we are keen walkers it’s so good to have a porch where you can leave boots and coats to dry without bringing mud into the house.

    It’s something that country rental properties, well the ones we choose, are good at. Last time we even had a boot scrapper outside the front door to deal with the mud.

    1. Hi Dick – like you say, I think it’s in owners’ interests to have good facilities like this, just for the preservation of other areas of the house. I should have mentioned that on the outside wall there was a hose for washing down dogs or boots, too.

  2. Congratulations to your eldest son on a great run.

    Any thoughts on returning to what is a great property for the same time next year? After another year’s training he might be able to shave those 18 seconds off his time!

    1. Thanks, Moya… both boys managed a top 10 finish. 🙂(I was lagging behind in 23rd but I was still very happy with that.) Hopefully we’ll be back one day to give it another shot. I think our eldest has aspirations to try and win Bushy parkrun (where parkrun started) one day – his time would have been good enough to win it that week (and it’s flatter), in a field of over 1,600 runners. But next up he and I have a trip to Portugal as he’ll be competing in the Tróia Swimrun in April, so keep an eye on the blog for that one!

  3. When we stayed at a Premier Cottage in Sussex everything went like clockwork. The property was exactly as promised and immaculately clean. All the admin was very user friendly. We would 100 % go with Premier Cottages again.

  4. It adds so much to a stay when the owners are as hands on as these two. It’s reassuring to know that they are around to help out with any crises.

    Apps and manuals only get you so far. Sometimes you need the help of old-fashioned human beings …

    1. Very true, Maggie… as owners of a small self-catering business ourselves, we are all too aware of the difference between a small, personal business and the attention to detail that that can offer, versus the large, sometimes rather impersonal, agencies that are out there.

  5. An honesty bar is a lovely touch. You don’t want to have to bring a bar with you or shop for one whilst on holiday. Let’s hope that people are honest and it stays in operation.

    1. I don’t think / hope that people abuse these things. There was a notebook there so guests could record what they’d had, and a piggy bank so an appropriate sum of money could be left. I’ve seen something like this in a small B&B before, where there was not a manned bar, but it was a new one for me in a self-catering property. A nice idea!

  6. The great thing about these rental properties when they are done this well is that they soon begin to feel like home. The problem with that comes when you have to pack up to go home.

  7. It’s well worth clicking on to the Premier Cottages website. There must be hundreds of properties there and many of them are top end.

  8. That option of having the 2 properties so that you can sleep 8 is really useful for family get togethers, especially if one couple literally want to retreat to The Retreat for some peace and quiet.

  9. I know that welcome packs are par for the course for human guests.

    Though this is the first time that I’ve heard of a doggy welcome pack.

    And what a pack of doggy treats it is!

  10. My wife usually gets lots of interior design ideas wherever we stay. I can see how her getting plenty of inspiration from Ewelands House. We could be heading for a complete makeover.

  11. There are times when you want a hotel and there are times when you want to be far from the madding crowd. More and more I want the privacy of self-catering where I wear whatever I want for breakfast and have my dinner whenever I like.

  12. Self-catering accommodation has come on a lot over the last decade. By and large the days of saggy beds and 1 stained tea towel are long gone.

  13. Great post, Paul! This was a perfect review covering everything to look out for when booking a stay. As far as I know, Premier Cottages provide good accommodations. Thanks for sharing!

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